Rooney Guns FTW, again

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USPSA started creating different equipment divisions in the 1990s. Prior to that, there was almost no restriction on what could be used. While detractors, including the original founders that had purposely created this no-restriction environment to allow for free experimentation, derided the “race gun” that had become the runaway favorite for serious competitors as “rooney guns” as something simply unsuitable for street and service use.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/tag/rooney-gun/

The sad thing about this is these same people always used “rooney guns”.

After other competitors began surpassing their ideas did this evolution of experimentation begin to be deemed unsuitable.

Now, don’t tell anyone, but equipment divisions are far less important than most people realize, especially those complaining about them:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/race-guns-vs-regular-guns/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/skill-classification-works/

Police have begun issuing “rooney guns” already. The military is following as well.

https://www.defense.gov/News/Contracts/Contract-View/Article/1602348/

Trijicon Inc., Wixom, Michigan,* is awarded a $7,626,587 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a five-year ordering period for handgun reflex sights for the miniature aiming system – day optics program. The handgun reflex sight is a low profile, wide field of view, passive sight for rapid day and night pistol target engagements in confined spaces, while prisoner handling, or in extremis after the primary weapon malfunctions. Work will be performed in Wixom, Michigan, and is expected to be completed by August 2023. Fiscal 2018 defense procurement funding in the amount of $1,158,052 will be obligated at the time of award and funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities website, with three offers received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, Indiana, is the contracting activity (N0016418DJQ25).

https://www.overtdefense.com/2018/08/15/us-navy-awards-trijicon-a-handgun-reflex-sight-contract/

At the beginning of the last year, it became known that the US Navy has accepted the M17/M18 pistols to become its next sidearm after these handguns were chosen by the US Army. About a year later, the US Navy has announced the procurement of 60,000 M18 MHS handguns. Both versions of the Modular Handgun System pistols have a provision to mount a reflex sight.

All of these guns would be competitive IPSC Modified guns (anything goes, just fit inside the box). Again, this has been the trend for years now and isn’t a new development, just military and police further and formally authorizing their use:

https://firearmusernetwork.com/ipsc-ftw/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooting-ftw-again/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooting-ftw/

This part from Houston PD is most important:

The resulting data from required qualifications (scores using a red dot versus irons), fielding (models, mechanical/electronic failures) battery life and other variables will be important to law enforcement and civilian shooters alike. Real-world field testing is invaluable when it comes to picking the best guns, sights, holsters and related gear. Let’s hope that Houston PD is willing to share sanitized data.

Here’s the sad downer. The Department of Army first adopted general-issue optics in the mid-1990s and retained the same qualification procedures and course for two decades after. Even the Training Circulars released starting in 2016 that replaced this qualification were not fully implemented for years after that. With a quarter century of common, general issue optics qualification scores did not change. As always, it’s the indian, not the arrow.

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Rooney Guns FTW!

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I am old enough to remember when USPSA started creating different equipment divisions. In fact, my first serious attempt at competition shooting was in their Limited division soon after it was first adopted.

The open/unlimited “race gun” had become the runaway favorite for serious competitors and they deviate from a “normal” carry/service pistol. This led to detractors deriding the development as “rooney guns” as something simply unsuitable for street and service use.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/tag/rooney-gun/

Now, don’t tell anyone, but equipment divisions are far less important than most people realize, especially those complaining about them:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/race-guns-vs-regular-guns/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/skill-classification-works/

Houston PD: Pistol Red Dot Sights Approved For Duty Use

In what may be the largest adoption of red dot sights on pistols to date, the Houston Police Department has issued a letter to sworn officers approving the optics for duty use. The approval comes along with some common-sense caveats; a Safariland level III Holster must be used, optics-ready pistols from specified manufacturers and the completion of an eight hour training course prior to putting the RDS into service.

The move towards the use of micro red dot sights by military and law enforcement has been gaining steam in the past few years with special teams and units being allowed to field the technology on a more case-by-case process. With more than 5,000 officers on staff Houston PD is set to take the lead on electronic sight use in U.S. law enforcement.

More:
https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2018/07/05/houston-red-dot-sights/

This is not a new development, just a police department formally authorizing their use:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/competition-shooting-ftw/

This part is most important:

The resulting data from required qualifications (scores using a red dot versus irons), fielding (models, mechanical/electronic failures) battery life and other variables will be important to law enforcement and civilian shooters alike. Real-world field testing is invaluable when it comes to picking the best guns, sights, holsters and related gear. Let’s hope that Houston PD is willing to share sanitized data.

Here’s the sad downer. The Department of Army first adopted general-issue optics in the mid-1990s and retained the same qualification procedures and course since 2018. Qualification scores have not changed. As always, it’s the indian, not the arrow.

Shooting Match Gear vs Real World

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As a young kid new to shooting, I had wanted to attend a “proper” shooting school, but I gave finances, high school and college, and military duties precedence. Having learned about IPSC through Jeff Cooper’s writings and finding a local USPSA club, I attended local competitions instead.

When first taking up practical shooting I believed the hype of only using street-real equipment as I wanted to avoid developing “bad habits.” Using a real-world pistol and holster that would have been openly welcomed at any defensive shooting school, I taught myself to reliably draw to a centered hit at seven yards in about 1.5 seconds, with the fast runs hovering in the 1.4s.

The competitive bug was biting me harder. I quickly realized that hypothetical criminal assault in my rural farming community where Holsteins outnumbered humans was highly unlikely and decided I’d rather win matches that actually occurred. I saved up for and bought a competition-specific rig and dry practiced a bit to set it up. At my first range session with the brand new go-fast gear I could reliably draw to a centered hit at seven yards in about 1.5 seconds, with the fast runs hovering in the 1.4s.

The gear wasn’t at fault. I was.

Score sheets and classifier results readily identify the better performers, which are the folks with the best training processes and habits. Observing and learning from them at matches and group practice sessions, then doing plenty of work on my own in between, let me cut those times in half, working down to 0.7s.

About this time, gunsmith Richard Heinie had started the 1911 Society and hosted an annual match called the Single Stack Classic. It was the first practical pistol match bigger than a local or state-level match attracting national-level champions being held within a reasonable driving distance and I decided to attend. Of course, my fancy go-fast gear wouldn’t be allowed and I needed to revert to my old “street-legal” Gunsite-approved equipment.

Tactical types often cry doom about match-specific equipment, giving me concerns of hurling my handgun downrange during bobbled draws due to “bad habits” caused by gamer/match race gear.

I ran a few short dry practice sessions over the course of several days and then hit the range. At that first session with practical gear I hadn’t used in a long time, I could reliably draw to a centered hit at seven yards in about 1.0 seconds, with the fast runs hovering in the 0.9s.

I never experienced “bad habit” problems during any practice sessions or matches, just improved performance.

Of course, I cheated. I probably logged more good dry repetitions in the three days prior to that first range session than most law enforcement and military personnel do in three years and then kept that schedule up through the match.

The real difference was I had greatly improved my skills and had developed the proper habits to do so. Even though it was with match-grade equipment, the carryover was direct and immediate. It took very little time and effort to re-acquaint myself to the different equipment. My fundamental skill with shooting and gunhandling was simply better and it helped across the board, even with equipment that I didn’t normally use.

My experience is not unique:
http://melodylauer.com/kilt-in-the-streetz-all-the-things-i-was-supposed-to-forget-under-stress/

TL;DR
Get better with something – anything – and prove this “better” occurred by validating it as being better in a formal, scored competitive environment.

Operator vs. Competitor Gun Reliability

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“At our monthly pistol match last weekend, our courageous (and now unpopular) match director included an optional thirty-round course of fire, exclusively for legitimate concealed-carry pistols. The only requirement was that the gun, and ammunition, used had to be one that the participant carries regularly. He said, ‘Let’s use what you’re carrying, right now, what you would have to rely upon to save your life… right now!’ No ‘match-guns,’ nor ‘race-guns’ were allowed.

Of the ten who participated, only three ‘carry’ guns functioned normally through thirty rounds!

The rest (all semi-autos) malfunctioned continuously, including light hits, mis-feeds, and failure to go fully into battery. These guns had all been carried in a pocket or concealed holster and were all dirty, full of lint and other debris. Some magazine springs were weak.

It was an eye-opener, especially for those whose guns would not function. To a person, they all piously swore, amid their embarrassment, that they cleaned their guns regularly, but that was obvious a self-serving lie. It was also obvious these guns were seldom, if ever, actually fired before that afternoon.”

http://defense-training.com/dti/readiness/
http://defense-training.com/dti/more-on-pistol-matches/

Let’s pretend this little episode actually occurred as stated and implied.

  • Potential win for all involved. We learned something when the only thing at stake was a score. Good thing to test and find out before it causes actual problems. A good shooter making a mistake at a match can take it as a learning point and fix it.
  • There’s a skill difference between competitors and participants. I’ve met plenty of D-class USPSA participants that have been attending matches for over a decade. No mention of the event specifics or attendees so no way to know.
  • It’s foolish to think this problem is somehow isolated to people at matches. Has he never been on a military or police range? Or ranges with people that never attend matches? How many stoppages occur at “operator” classes? Here are some examples of students at Gunsite posted by Gunsite on their Facebook page:

Tactical class malfunction 1:

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153547963679453

Tactical class malfunction 2:

https://www.facebook.com/GunsiteAcademy/videos/10153935592494453/

Tactical class malfunction 3:

View this post on Instagram

New electronic target systems at Gunsite.

A post shared by Gunsite Academy (@gunsiteacademy) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLCAnMjD0mI/

But this claim mostly reeks of typical unsubstantiated “games’ll getcha killed” nonsense. This unicorn event that apparently didn’t have a physical location, date, name, or affiliation will appease those that have never attended an actual match into continuing the delusion that such events are “bad.”

>> Most had never been fired, even once, until that day!To be sure, all ten pistols were badly neglected and dirty

Both claims are made in different places between these posts. So we’re to believe brand new, never-fired pistols have magically become so dirty, fouled, and spring-weakened as to cause stoppages.

We’re also to believe shooters serious enough to regularly attend an organized, scored, no-alibi shooting discipline are unaware of the need to check if their equipment is reliable. And that said shooters would have guns for regular carry readily available but never bother to shoot them ever. Because we all know how competitive shooters hate to shoot. Especially when these regular match shooters intend to participate in a scored side match with said gun.

>> My carry guns, pistols and rifles, are all designed and built for serious purposes. Few ‘modifications.’ Most are ‘out-of-the-box.’ I wouldn’t win a typical pistol match with any of them!

Service Conditions matches require as-issue gear. NO modifications are allowed, not even the ‘few’ this fellow uses. Nearly every discipline has a stock or production category available that stipulates using exactly what this fellow uses. There is not that big of gulf when comparing open match guns to production guns as this fellow ignorantly implies. Here are the numbers:
https://firearmusernetwork.com/2012/06/10/race-guns-vs-regular-guns/

Stock or production-legal guns are carry-appropriate and effectively identical to what’s advocated here. He wouldn’t win a typical pistol match with any of them because he lacks the fundamental skill to do so.

Oh, and here’s what a skilled competitive shooter can actually do with a sub-compact .380 from concealment.

https://www.facebook.com/remingtonarmscompany/videos/travis-tomasie-puts-the-rm380-through-its-paces-in-this-video-sizemattersnot-spe/10153454344106025/

High Power with Issue Rifles

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How much of a difference does match grade equipment make compared to standard, rack grade, issue rifles and ammunition? National champion CPT Freeman of the USAR Service Rifle Team shares his experience in competing with both.

By actual test, the difference in score between a top end match grade rifle with highly refined sights and trigger, ammunition, and shooting accessories (padded shooting coat, sling, glove, etc.) is less than 15%, even with a beat up, bottom-edge issue rack-grade rifle and ammunition with no refinements and no shooting accessories. It will likely be even less in most cases.

BLUF: Scores are earned by skill. Even the best match grade equipment can only account for the last few percentage points in the score.

The same holds true with handguns and practical shooting.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/race-guns-vs-regular-guns/

Qualification and Skill

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People outside the competition world often fail to understand the sort of skill levels possible. Routine qualification is the most vestigial level of basic understanding. Police and military qualification is the equivalent of a simple arithmetic quiz considered easy by elementary school children. It’s a perfectly acceptable level for a student actually in elementary school and basic/recruit/Academy training because we’re working with a brand-new novice. It is no longer acceptable years later because the student should have progressed.

I discuss this at length in my book Beyond Expert: Tripling Military Shooting Skills using U.S. Army qualification standards as compared to NATO combat competition courses. In it I show that anyone interested in competition shooting needs to at least triple military qualification “expert” (or even “perfect”) standards as a starting point. For handgun events, this can be increased by a factor of five or more. Shooters consistently winning need to be better still.
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Shooting Skill in Competition

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Ricardo Lopez is an active practical competition shooter shooting USPSA Open division and runs the GunBot website.

Among other interesting topics, he posted great videos showcasing side-by-side comparisons of USPSA competitors of different Classifications.

USPSA – Comparing A Class and GM Class in Open Division:

USPSA – Comparing GM Class and Master Class

Some takeaways and lessons learned.

The jump in classification from A Class to Master is fairly significant and going up again to Grand Master is a bigger jump still. When I earned my first Master card from USPSA a fellow competitor quipped, “Congratulations! Now the hard work begins.” Improvements at this level are well past the point of diminishing returns and harvesting improvements comes only at great effort. The low hanging fruit has long been picked, the ladder no longer reaches high enough, and we’re now just beyond the reach of the hydraulic “cherry picker” boom lift… As one commenter noted, “A lot of the time it seems like [the GM shooter] is poised to run out a string a half second faster…” At this level, competitors are measuring differences at eye-blink speeds and faster.

Despite being two skill classifications apart, these shooters are quite close in capability. Yes, the GM is getting better shots and completing the stage quicker (obviously) but this far from a trouncing. Then again, at this level of competition, it is. In conventional competition, especially Long Range matches, events are often won and lost by X count. I once took second place in a 4,500 point aggregate military match lasting a week by two points.

Outside of competition, tenths of a second and X-count aggregates rarely make or break performance. Both the A and GM class shooters in this video are so far beyond the skill levels of typical military and police-trained gun carriers they are effectively a different species of shooter.

This small difference is even smaller when comparing results due to type of firearm.
https://firearmusernetwork.com/race-guns-vs-regular-guns/
https://firearmusernetwork.com/high-power-with-issue-rifles/

Driving skills beyond novice levels is the point of organized events such as competition. At higher levels, the differences in skill demands much more work for tiny improvements. This necessitates stringent scoring. Novices can qualify on huge silhouette targets with ridiculously generous (or non-existent) time standards because they are that low skilled. Such a course becomes a non-event for a skilled shooter, rather like a Doctor of Mathematics taking an elementary school arithmetic test.

Getting personnel, especially everyone in an instructor or similar capacity, to a skill level where this even starts to matter is a huge jump in making programs better. It sure beats the current status quo of having low-skilled novices run things.

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